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Groups seek reconsideration of Alabama Power dams

Phillip Rawls, Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Two groups have asked a federal agency to reconsider a license renewal that allows Alabama Power to keep operating its dams on the Coosa River for 30 years.

The Alabama Rivers Alliance and American Rivers filed the request with legal help from the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Mitch Reid, program director for the Alabama Rivers Alliance, said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission renewed the license June 20 with incomplete information, and more environmental studies should be done. "They are making bad decisions with bad data," he said Monday.

The two groups said construction of the seven dams along the 225 miles of the river have wiped out more than 30 freshwater species and others are listed as endangered or threatened.

Alabama Power spokesman Brandon Glover said the license renewal came after 250 public meetings over six years and involved numerous groups and experts from federal agencies, and they addressed potential impacts on species and their habitats.

He said Alabama Power's license application incorporated extensive species and habitat protection, including a shoreline management plan that is protective of specials and habitat, development of a drought plan that minimizes impact to species, and enhancement of the red cockaded woodpecker habitat at Lake Mitchell.

Reid said it is rare for FERC to reconsider, but it is important to try because the decision could have a 30-year impact.

The seven dams are Weiss, Neely Henry, Logan Martin, Lay, Mitchell, Jordan, and Walter Bouldin.